Students have lost one year of their studies due to the apathy, willfulness and carefree attitude of authorities at Kashmir University. Dangerous as it is, the blood - boiling trend set by the university over the last two years to take more than 4 years for completion of 3-year UG courses cannot be tolerated, come what may be the explanation - which usually is nothing but eyewash. Letting those who consider the poor students as guinea pigs sleep soundly is equally hideous and sinful .It is high time that students and other stakeholders rise to the occasion and fight this injustice tooth and nail. Of late, the Kashmir University was reaccredited with grade A by NAAC. It is worth applauding and equally surprising that it has scored 3.31 on a scale of 04. Amongst various evaluation criteria, it has fared exceptionally well in Infrastructure and Learning Resources and comparatively low in Student Support and Progression.
The distrust among the students studying in its affiliated colleges - that make almost a whooping 80 to 90% of its student base - puts in question the university's performance in NAAC assessment. In that case, either it is a smart cover-up by the university or the evaluation criteria of NAAC miss comprehensiveness. “We have a huge chunk of students who were put to disadvantages last year as the PG entrance was held in September. KU couldn't accommodate all the students and they were not in position to avail admission in outside state universities where admission process starts in June,” Nisar Ahmad Mir, the registrar of the university had told some media correspondent last year in December. And nothing changed. Unfortunately, this year also there is no ready batch of graduates, as of now, to write PG entrance. After so much of hullabaloos, the university has decided to conduct exam of 3rd year (5th/6th SEM) in Aug/September. Alas! It did very little to save one precious year of students. Otherwise, there were many possibilities.
The university, accidentally on purpose, exploited the folly of handful of students who naively approached it to defer exams. No doubt, we live on a knife edge. But there is always a way out. It is nothing but poor administration that is responsible for this mess. If this torture and apathy at the hands of Kashmir University continues, we will find our graduates in mental asylums. Hoping against hope, 5th/6th semester students appeared in the PG entrance of Central University, Kashmir CUCET-2019 at their own risk and responsibility. The admissions will be up by the end of June. At IUST, admissions will end by September. Outside valley, at JMI or other institutions admissions will end by August /September. Simply, the students have nowhere to go now as their degrees will in no possibility be completed by at least November 2019. Nevertheless, one must accept the limitations in which the university is working- even if it is in a way responsible for inventing many of these constraints by hasty planning. And undoubtedly, introduction of semester system in colleges is one of the causes of this out-of-track academic calendar. No good academic will challenge the move to Semester System & CBCS because of its student-centric nature. But the region we live in is not a bit conducive to this system of education.
When things were at the worst in 90s, even then hardly would a student lose an academic session but now it has become challenging for both teacher and taught to meet the objectives. Does no one at the helm of affairs thought about the consequences of introducing Semester System in this conflict zone where at times months of class work at a stretch get wasted due to hartals or restrictions? How can our policy decision makers be so insensitive and ignorant? Our students and teachers are finding it very difficult to adopt this system. It must be a requirement as directed by UGC. But there are states where annual system of examination is still in vogue or has been reintroduced. Why? And if at all semester system is indispensable, we can reduce syllabi and/or combine two semester examinations annually to finish a UG/PG course in due time. Alternatively, we can have semester wise internal assessments at college level and one final course-end exam conducted by university.
Certainly, there is need to reform examination system and come up with a tailor-made system with tradeoffs fit for this disturbed region. There are many possibilities but one need not be willful. On a lighter note, it would have been a trivial affair to conduct timely exams had there been a dear one of authorities enrolled in these unlucky batches of 2015 and 2016. As there is no use of crying in the wilderness, poor students may at least pray earnestly for just a single enrollment of an elite or an ‘apple of authorities' eyes in a KU batch. I reckon, this will work like a charm and there will be no lost tracks and rough platforms to tread upon.
(Author is Assistant Professor)